BOOK REVIEW: The Afterlife of History

Posted on February 18, 2022

On 14 February 2022, Professor Pepper Stetler published a review of "The Trial of Cecil John Rhodes" by Professor Adekeye Adebajo, senior reserach fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship.


Adekeye Adebajo’s The Trial of Cecil John Rhodes, published in 2020, serves as a literary complement to ongoing confrontations with these statues. (The novella was published before Oriel College decided to keep Rhodes’s statue, and there are several places in the text where Adebajo references its imminent fall.) More than an iconoclastic takedown of Rhodes, the novella imagines a trial in which he is confronted with the extraordinary accomplishments of Africans and members of the African diaspora and is forced to answer for his brazenly imperialist ambitions. Rhodes ultimately gets the justice he deserves, but the novella also re-centers history on the African continent with encyclopedic organization and clarity. “It is therefore European imperialism as a whole that is on trial over the next two days,” states Judge Taslim Olawale Elias, the first African President of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, who presides over Rhodes’s imagined trial. Part of that imperialism is the suppression of African history. By taking Rhodes and his readers through a history of Africa and its diaspora, Adebajo interrogates Eurocentric history and what it chooses to suppress.

The full review can be found on the Ploughshares Blog, here

- Author Kirsty Nepomuceno
Published by Kirsty Nepomuceno

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